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Auto blogMon, 28 Jan 2013 10:15:00 EST
TheDetroitBureau.com reports Toyota has retaken the global sales crown. The Japanese automaker turned out 9.75 million vehicles last year, putting it just ahead of General Motors, with 9.29 million vehicles. Volkswagen, meanwhile, filled out the podium by building 9.1 million units in 2012.
Still, Toyota numbers fell just below projections the automaker made earlier in the year, due largely to a fierce territorial dispute between Japan and China that has seen mainland buyers shun Japanese goods. But the news marks a substantial comeback for Toyota. The company fell to third place in the global production race in 2011 after tragic earthquake and tsunami caused several plant closures.
In Japan, Toyota enjoyed a sales increase of 35 percent over the previous year, while the company's worldwide sales jumped by 23 percent thanks in part to new additions to the Prius line. The automaker is forecasting yet another increase for 2013, with the company projecting to reach 9.91 million units this year. Neither Volkswagen nor GM have released their own projections just yet.
It's a good time to be in the luxury car business. In Volkswagen Group's financial report for the 2013 fiscal year, it is revealed that that Porsche enjoyed an operating margin of 18 percent. That means the Stuttgart brand made on average about $23,200 per car sold, according to BusinessWeek. Bentley wasn't far behind, and Audi (which was combined with Lamborghini) posted a 10.1 percent margin. This compares to only around 2.9 percent for the Volkswagen brand.
"Luxury brands are on fire," said Dave Sullivan, an industry analyst at AutoPacific. He said that the average profit margin is between six and eight percent. Brands like Porsche and Bentley have the benefit of competing in rarefied markets. Buyers looking at one their vehicles have fewer models to shop against and don't care as much about price. They can also charge more for options, which further boosts income, according to BusinessWeek.
In a way, we should be more impressed by the continued success from Audi. Its models generally have direct competitors in every segment from the other premium automakers. Plus, their buyers aren't the captains of industry who are shopping for a Bentley. Still, the Four Rings is leading rivals in sales so far this year.
Chinese car site Autohome has what are said to be the first pictures of the Volkswagen New Midsize Coupe concept in production form. VW's NMC was just introduced at the Beijing Motor Show, while background chatter indicated it would go on sale in China, Autohome says that production version will be built at the Shanghai-Volkswagen plant in Ningbo, and the retail guise could be introduced at the Guangzhou Motor Show in November and go on sale that same month.
Assuming this is the production car, its main lines have made the jump from the concept but with less fine detailing, a silver hue and with conventional VW wheels it's lost a little bit of oomph. Still, a few checkmarks on the option sheet can fix most of that, the shape remains handsome and the 2.0-liter turbo underhood keeps performance peppy and mileage frugal enough. You can head to Autohome for a couple more photos of a sedan we'd be happy to make room for over here.